This 2020 Study Review says: Berberine (BBR) has been extensively studied in vivo and vitro experiments. BBR inhibits cell proliferation by regulating cell cycle and cell autophagy, and promoting cell apoptosis. BBR also inhibits cell invasion and metastasis by suppressing EMT and down-regulating the expression of metastasis-related proteins and signaling pathways. In addition, BBR inhibits cell proliferation by interacting with microRNAs and suppressing telomerase activity. BBR exerts its anti-inflammation and antioxidant properties, and also regulates tumor microenvironment. This review emphasized that BBR as a potential anti-inflammation and antioxidant agent, also as an effective immunomodulator, is expected to be widely used in clinic for cancer therapy.

Berberine as a cancer treatment

4 September 2018

Berberine has been shown in research to work along a number of quite separate pathways against cancer; it reduces blood sugar levels, it reduces inflammation, boosts immune response and attacks the energy production system (the AMPK pathway) of cancer cells weakening the cancer cells, and helping chemotherapy; it also kills microbes in the gut and cuts blood fats and blood pressure.

Indeed, with some oncologists starting to use diabetes drug metformin in the fight against cancer because it cuts blood sugar and also affects the AMPK pathway, it is important to note that Berberine does eveything metformin does, and more! 

What is Berberine?

Berberine is an isoquinoline alkaloid component of many medicinal herbs, such as Goldenseal (Hydrastis Canadensis), Chinese Isatis (Isatis tinctoria), Oregan grape root (Berberis aquifolium) and berberry bark.  

Berberine and specific cancers

There are over 500 quality research studies conducted on Berberine and cancer and research is gathering momentum. For example:

  1. Berberine and Colorectal Cancer – Berberine has a number of important actions. Its ability to reduce blood sugar levels. A strong anti-inflammatory action against Cox-2. And it has a number of strong digestive benefits and the ability to kill yeasts and pathogens. Combined these give it a strong influence in colorectal cancer where it can limit invasion and metastases(8).

A 2017 study showed that Berberine could inhibit the metastases and invasion of colorectal cancer cells both in vivo and in vitro in three ways – by restricting Cox-2, by reducing phosphorylation and by restricting MMP expression(10).

  1. Berberine and breast cancer – a 2016 study on breast cancer cells showed that berberine and curcumin worked in combination to cause apoptosis (cancer cell death) and autophagic cell death(9).

Berberine prevents cell growth and induces apoptosis in breast cancer cells (Kim JB et al 2010; Patil JB et al, 2010); In 2016, a study by Lanzhou University Medical School in China showed that because Berberine could turn the AMPK enzyme back on, Berberine could correct breast cancer cells.

  1. Berberine and Brain Cancer (GBM) – Berberine inhibits gene expression and enzyme activity necessary for glioblastoma and astrocytoma growth (Wang DY et al, 2002). This is not the first time it has shown effect with brain tumours. One study showed it might be a useful adjunct in PDT – in vitroexperiments showed using berberine alone, or in combination with laser treatments, on glioma cells were both effective (Chen KT et al, 1994). In 2004 it was shown to be a sensitizer of glioma cells where it increased the success of radiotherapy in brain tumours (Wallace J et al, 2004).

A 2008 study explained that berberine triggers apoptosis in glioblastoma cells through the mitochondrial caspases pathway (Eom KS et al 2008).

In 2009, research reported that berberine kills glioma cells through several mechanisms: “Cytotoxicity is attributable to apoptosis mainly through induced G2/M-arrested cells, in an ER-dependent manner, via a mitochondria-dependent caspase pathway regulated by Bax and Bcl-2” (Chen TC et al 2009).

A 2015 study showed that it aided the action of temozolomide against glioma (brain cancer).  Indeed part of the study suggested it was also effective in its own right even beating the effects of Temozolomide.

Berberine enhanced the activity of carmustine, a chemo drug often used on brain tumours. Berberine in culture or in rats given cancer tumours, on its own produced a 91% kill rate in cell cultures, compared to 43% for carmustine. When the two were combined the kill rate rose to 97% (Zhang, RX et al, 1990).

  1. Berberine and prostate cancer: Berberine has been shown to inhibit metastatic activity in prostate cancer cells. In particular Berberine seems to be one of the few compounds that inhibits the EMT program which causes metastases to bones (14). Neither hormone therapy nor chemotherapy nor radiotherapy has any action on bone metastases in prostate cancer but berberine does show effect. 
  2. Berberine and other cancers: 

 In 2011, a review of the anti-cancer effects of berberine concluded that it was a promising, safe anti-tumour agent with a number of potential therapeutic uses (11).

 * Berberine sensitizes lung tumor cells to radiation (Peng PL et al 2008, Liu Y et al, 2008).

 * Berberine is cytotoxic to cervical cancer cells (Lu B et al, 2010);

 * Berberine inhibits cell growth in pancreatic cancer cells by inducing DNA damage (Pinto-Garcia L et al, 2010).

 * Berberine triggers cellular suicide in tongue cancer (Ho YT et al 2009).

Yet more ways Berberine works against cancer?

Berberine seems to work in other ways too:

  * Berberine inhibits an enzyme called arylamine N-acetyltransferase (NAT) that is thought to initiate cancer (Hung CF et al, 2000).

  *  In 2007 there were conclusions that berberine acts “through several ways, such as regulating apoptotic gene expression, suppressing the formation of tumor angiogenesis [and blocking signal transduction pathway” (Yang J et al 2007).

  * In 2010 showed that Berberine could inhibit NF-KappaB and other compounds that help cancer cells survive by slowing apoptosis (Pazhang Y et al 2010).

Metformin and Berberine can work together against cancer

Berberine seems to have so many benefits against cancer, well beyond its sugar control. But Metformin also has sugar controlling benefits and acts on AMPK – it is the ’diabetes drug’. For this reason, many users take an either/or approach. That seems to be quite wrong. Actually Berberine and Metformin seem to enhance each other’s activity. For example, there is a study with Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer (NSCLC) showing exactly that (12). They work together in vitro and in vivo against a particularly nasty cancer.

Dosage of Berberine in cancer therapy

Berberine seems to be dose dependent and research indicates that low doses may be totally ineffective, and may even cause problems. The cancer inhibiting doses in research seem to start at 3 x 500 mg a day.

Berberine can cause a heavy heart beat and probably should not be taken long-term, although there is little evidence for this warning.

Berberine is, however, as powerful as pharmaceutical drugs. There are concerns about long-term usage causing metabolic changes. More work is however needed on this but warnings over long-term use persist.

Cancer Survival Tips

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